Yak Shaving

Yak ShavingI was reading Seth's Blog tonight and he had an old post about yak shaving in it that really hit home to me.

"Yak shaving" is a term that was apparently invented in 2000 by Carlin Vieri, a student at MIT, referring to a "Ren and Stimpy" episode (Watch the Yak Shaving Episode). Yes, the show is very silly. It's Canadian humor, what can I say?

It refers to a seemingly pointless, unrelated activity that you find yourself engaged in that is really the result of a series of causal relations links intended to help with the activity you are really trying to do.

Here is an example: Let's say you want to make a blog post. So you sit down and begin typing up what no doubt will be a masterpiece, when you realize that you need to back up the main argument with a fact. So you go looking for third party proof.

Realizing that there isn't any easily available, you decide to do a quick test. So you need to upload a file to your friend's website. You catch him at work, and he says no problem, but he forgot the login and password, so could you stop in at his house to get it?

At his house, your friends wife reminds you that you promised to fix a treasured travel memento (a pillow stuffed with Yak hair) that you accidentally sat on the last time you were over, spilling the stuffing out everywhere. She is still giving you the evil eye over this.

So you go to the basement to get the sewing kit, and then realize that you don't have any yak hair to stuff the pillow with. Naturally normal hair will not do. You remember that there is a farm just outside of town that sells yak milk, and therefore probably has yaks, complete with hair.

So you drive out there, buy some yak milk to appease the owner, and then bring up your yak hair issue. After some hemming and hawing, the owner agrees to let you shave a little off one of his yaks.

So there you are, at a farm in the middle of nowhere, trying to shave an ornery looking yak - just so you can write a blog post!

That's yak shaving.

Have you ever found yourself in a yak shaving moment? It happens to me all the time. For example, tonight I found myself filling up the water level in a fountain in my home just so I could book a flight on the internet to Los Angeles.

Hey, it all made sense at the time...


1 comment:

Kalena Jordan said...

Hey Ian, found your post while doing some yak shaving of my own! Love it. Sounds like something you'd see on The Amazing Race.